Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Part Nine: Yours Truly, Robert Bloch 

October 26th, 1990. Hallow-Con New York City

George browsed a book vendor while waiting for the auditorium to open for tonight’s panel. A blue covered book caught his eye, on the cover was the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolfman. Flipping through the pages, he remembered reading Movie Monsters by Alan Ormsby as a kid. He put it back, then noticed a few movie novelizations and spin-off books were present. George spotted a Halloween novel. It wasn’t an adaptation of one of the movies though. The title read, “Halloween: The Return of Michael Myers.” by Nicholas Grabowsky. This book also brought back memories, as he borrowed it from Dan back in film school. The novel was an original story where both Michael Myers and Dr. Gavin survived the explosion at the end of Halloween II. Myers awakes from a ten year coma to wreak havoc on Haddonfield. Dr. Gavin returns to again save Laurie Strode, who now has a daughter. Myers is legitimately blown up in the climax, but the novel ends on a great twist when Laurie is killed by her now psychotic eight year old daughter, who has inherited her uncle’s madness.

George then picked up the next book, which he never read. Halloween: The Revenge apparently followed the exploits of the child psychotic. It looked pretty cool, and he soon put it down to browse Halloween: Child’s Play, which was a crossover novel where the killer girl gets with Chucky, the evil doll from the Child’s Play series. The vendor told him a new crossover novel was coming out soon, mixing the two aforementioned series with the new Puppet Master films. “That sounded fun,” George thought to himself.

He put these books back when he noticed two others. American Gothic was a novel he’d read as a teenager. It was about this guy named H. H. Holmes who had a literal torture chamber in his house. George made the mistake of lending the book out in college and it never got back to him. The thing was, this case was actually real. Dr. Holmes Murder Castle, was a factual account of the real life case by the same author of American Gothic, the same author he was going to meet tonight. He hadn’t read the factual account, and decided to buy both books. After paying and putting both books in his bag, he went into the now open auditorium. 

The special topic tonight was the history of the horror film, hosted by the man George sought to meet, Robert Bloch. George was growing to like his work, but he wondered why Bloch was presenting on this topic, since he had little if anything to do with horror movies. As the author was introduced, George now realized, per the MC’s introduction, that Bloch wrote television episodes for shows George liked, such as Monsters, Tales of the Unexpected, and Darkroom. Not only that, but he also wrote episodes of the original Star Trek, Night Gallery, and the Man from U.N.C.L.E. The MC joked that Robert Bloch had the heart of a young boy, which he keeps in a jar on his desk. This elicited laughter from the audience and Robert Bloch took the stage.

After receiving a warm reception, the author graciously thanked the convention for having him, then jested “You were too cheap to ask Stephen King and you knew I needed lunch money.” The audience laughed some more. George did not expect to find the master of psycho tales to be cracking jokes, but there he was.

Naturally Bloch started with the golden age of horror of the 1930’s and 40’s. He pointed out how the classic monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman were all foreigners, and/or characters from European folklore. Then in the 50’s you had the nuclear monsters in the wake of the atomic bomb. George remembered watching those movies. His dad and his sister liked them too. He remembered one time he covered himself with a blanket trying to scare his sister while they watched The Blob. He rolled over to her in his disguise and Helen just laughed hysterically.

There wasn’t as much to cover in the 1960s, but Bloch noted that the 1970s brought a pronounced change. George cheered ferociously at the mention of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Hearing such an exuberant response, Bloch pointed to George and said “I bet you loved the sequel, the Tennessee Slumber Party.” to which George and everyone else howled in laughter. Bloch went on to explain how the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a 1974 film about a group of hillbillies in rural Texas. The lead villain, a deformed character named Saw-man, dispatched random motorists with his trusty chainsaw. George wished with all his heart that that movie could have turned into a series. In his mind it could have stood up there with the modern franchises like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. Unfortunately, in the real world, a sequel never came.

Bloch’s point about Chainsaw was, while it was not a big hit, it marked the beginning of a trend of homegrown American horror, of scary stories of not a foreign or alien menace, but about your neighbor, the guy next door. Other movies mentioned included Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes, which Bloch joked was followed by the sequel the Woods have Noses. Bloch theorized that in the wake of the Manson murders and the social unrest of the 1960s, audiences were developing a taste for real life and brutality in their horror. George was never academic about his fandom, but he was unsure of Bloch’s theory. After all, as the author himself had said, the aforementioned films were not big hits.

Halloween was mentioned, which brought about a big cheer. “If you remember, the first two Halloween movies weren’t about ghosts and werewolves,” Bloch reminded the audience. “It was about a boy, Michael Myers, who was a psychotic killer. Michael Myers wasn’t from another country or from outer space, he was from anytown USA. Now, hearing the cheers in this crowd, assuming you’re not cheering for me,” to which the audience laughed again, “these movies obviously found an audience.” Another cheer erupted as Bloch continued, “but the truth was these weren’t very successful movies when you look at the box office. Now if you look in the last decade, we seemed to have taken the idea of the home-grown threat, and brought it back to the monster. If you look at Halloween, it did inspire a sub-genre known as the slasher, with movies like the Burning and Sleepaway Camp, but they weren’t huge hits like 1980’s Friday the 13th with it’s Jersey Devil, or like CHUD, or Critters, or the Thing remake. You did have ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, with Freddy Kreuger being slasher-esque, but he’s also like a ghost, more supernatural. Halloween itself got away from the slasher genre it helped create in its later installments, bringing in witches and ghosts and werewolves. Reportedly the next entry of that series is going to involve vampires. I have an idea for the following one though.” He then suggested, pointing his finger up in the air, “It should be about Jack the Ripper!” Again the audience laughed, especially from those familiar with Bloch’s frequent works involving the infamous London serial killer.

“So what will the 90s bring to horror cinema,” Bloch asked as he reached the end of his speech, “who knows? Sequels for all the big franchises are still in the works, but undoubtedly a new generation will come along with new characters that will make us scream.“

After dinner Dan and Victoria sat in on a presentation on entertainment law. The presenter was a young woman, a lawyer who specialized in the entertainment business. Dan found her quite attractive. She had a certain special poise and intelligence about her, similar to what Dan saw in Victoria.

When the presentation ended the woman stayed to take questions from the audience. As Dan and Victoria approached, the woman greeted Dan with a smile and said “Nice shirt.”

Dan looked down at his Halloween shirt that he forgot he was wearing. “Thanks.” he said. Then looking back up at her he asked. “Are you a Halloween fan?”

“Yeah I got a soft spot for the original.” The lawyer revealed. “Actually I auditioned for a role in it.”

“Wait what!?!” Dan and Victoria were both surprised as Dan asked. “You were an actress?”

“Well my mother was.” The woman said. “You probably never heard of her. Janet Leigh?” 

Dan drew a blank but Victoria recognized that name. “Oh, I know her, she was in the Machurian Candidate and Angels in the Outfield!”

“That’s right!” The woman said, pleasantly surprised.

“And she was in Touch of Fear!” Victoria added enthusiastically.

“The Orson Wells classic.” The woman said. Then pointing at Victoria she said to Dan. “That’s a smart girl you have there.” 

“Thanks,” Dan said, “she’s the best.” 

“Aww that’s so sweet.” The woman said, admiring the young couples affection for each other.

“So what happened?” Victoria asked.

“Well when I was young the acting bug got me, so I dropped out of law school to give it a shot. My big break never came though.” she explained, revealing no remorse over her path in life. “So eventually I went back to school, became an entertainment lawyer, and here I am!”

“That’s really cool.” Victoria said. “Do you ever regret it, not getting to act?”

“Sometimes I think about it, but I like what I’m doing.” she answered.  “Who knows, maybe someday I’ll take a stab at it!” she said laughing while she thrusted her hand in a stabbing motion. “In the meantime if you ever need representation here is my card.”

Both Dan and Victoria took her business card. Dan looked down to read it. “Jamie Curtis.” Looking up he said “Well it was nice to meet you.”

“Nice meeting you too!” Jamie Curtis said. She smiled as the young couple walked away. The lawyer then turned to chat with the last few people remaining in the room.

Part Seven: The Master of Horror

October 26th, 1990. Hallow-Con, New York City

Victoria, like most everyone else at the convention, was excited to meet Tom Savini, the master of gory special effects. Savini did effects work for such classics as Dawn of the Dead, Maniac, The Burning, Creepshow, and Friday the 13th, hence the long line at the Friday the 13th booth for his autograph. While waiting with Dan she rolled her eyes as George bragged about the all the times he’d already met him.

Strategically adjacent to Savini was the booth for the current Friday the 13th TV series. Dan and Victoria were happy to meet Chris Wiggins, Eliaz Zarou, and Steve Monarque while moving along in line. Talking to the cast of the series, they got to look at a few props from the show, which was about cursed items from a pawn shop and had nothing to do with the films. Dan took Victoria’s picture while she tried on the cursed apron, which was worn in an episode by a distraught camp cook whose son drowned in a lake. George picked up a hockey mask laying among the props, and Victoria remembered another episode where a guy got ahold of that mask, which turned him into an unkillable psychopath. Victoria and Dan both agreed that would have made a good movie.

The mask fit perfectly over George’s face, and through the eyeholes he could see across the aisle to the Nightmare on Elm street booth. Its star, Kane Hodder, who played Freddy Krueger, was present signing autographs. As usual, unable to contain his excitement, George screamed “Kane Hodder!” Kane laughed as he looked across the aisle to see this big man wearing a hockey mask waving at him. Kane waved back and smiled politely as he continued signing autographs for his fans.

Victoria and her fiance were both glowing as they finally reached the end of the line. “Hey big guy!” Tom seemed to recognize George from past conventions and happily shook his hand. Victoria was afraid George would yap with him forever, but fortunately he did not, and her and Dan were next.

“I’m so thrilled to meet you!” Victoria blushed. Tom graciously shook her hand as a rush of excitement went through her. She flashed back to all those times as a young teenager, watching horror movies on her dirty couch, never even daring to dream that someday she would be here before him. To Victoria and her fiance, this moment was like what meeting Michael Jordan or Joe Montana would be to the people outside these convention walls. The couple were absolutely thrilled to talk with Tom, who could not have been more friendly.

To George, meeting Savini may have become old hat, but he was still excited due to what was standing right next to the horror effects master. There it was, decked out in full costume straight out of the movies, what was considered to be Tom’s greatest creation. It was massive, lumbering, evil. While her fiance made small talk with Tom, Victoria noticed George looking over the creature the way most men would look over her. His eyes went up and down the monstrous body, appreciating every little detail, from the fangs and claws down to the last little bloody scar. There before him, stood the Jersey Devil of the Friday the 13th series. 

Naturally Dan and Victoria admired the beast as well. “I always wanted to ask you this.” Dan said nervously.  “Is it true you there was a different story in mind for the first Friday the 13th film?”

“Well I didn’t write the script, but most of the people on the crew were big fans of Halloween.” The master explained while pointing to Dan’s Halloween shirt. “From what I remember, the original story was going to have a human killer.” Looking at Victoria he added “If I recall they were even thinking of a female villain. Thing was, Halloween wasn’t a huge hit, so the financiers were a little gun shy.” 

“Really!” Dan wondered aloud. “I thought Halloween was awesome!”

“Sure, I mean the people that come to shows like this love it,” Tom said, “but remember it wasn’t really a successful movie. Some of it was great, but they needed a better lead actress.”

“I loved that red head!” George motioned with his hands. “She had that nice big rack!”

“Uh, yeah,” Tom nervously laughed. “She couldn’t act though, they needed someone to play Laurie Strode with some vulnerability. Michael Myers was such a great villain, and Donald Pleasence was pitch perfect as Dr. Gavin, If they’d just cast a good lead that could have put the movie over the top.” George continued admiring the creature while Victoria and Dan nodded in understanding.

“Anyway, Sean Cunningham got a new group of investors for the film,” Tom went on to explain, “and these new investors pushed for a monster. There hadn’t been a good monster movie in a while, and we thought, hell since we’re filming in New Jersey anyway, why not make it the Jersey Devil?”

“Too bad about not having a female killer.” Victoria thought out loud. “We don’t get too many of those, aside from Carrie I guess.”

“And Mary Lou from the Prom Night Sequels.” Dan added.

“That’s why I love you dear.” Victoria’s eyes twinkled at her fellow horror nerd.

“It’s probably all for the best though.” George said, pointing to the Devil. ”That thing is awesome. So who is under the mask? Is it C. J. Graham or Dan Bradley?”

“That’s the one and only Tim Mirkovich, straight from Part Eight!” Savini revealed.

“Oh sweet, straight from Part Eight. I wasn’t sure if you were going to be here!’ George said excitedly.

Then the young couple got their pictures taken with both Tom and the Devil. George also got his Friday the 13th Part 8: The Devil Takes Manhattan poster autographed. “This is the best Friday ever!” George said. “I loved that chase scene on the Brooklyn Bridge, and that scene where the Devil dives off the Statue of Liberty was so cool!”

“Thank you.” Tom said. “Those were really hard scenes to shoot, we’re sure glad you appreciate them.“

“So what’s the next movie going to be about?” Victoria asked.

“Well we don’t know where else to take him.” Tom started thinking on his feet. “We did Jersey, we did New York, maybe next the Devil should go back to hell. haha.”

“That would rule!” George said, his eyes still on the beast. More fans were gathered around to meet Savini, so the trio and Tom made their final greetings. Walking away with the autographs and pictures, Victoria could have gone home right then and there and would have been happy.

October 26th, 1990. Bethlehem Pennsylvania

The Second Street Tavern was filled with music as Henry watched her daughter take a shot. He’d long dispatched Phil from the pool table, who was now on stage jamming with Steve. Henry was growing to like the local music scene. He liked it more when an attractive red head walked in with a guitar slung around her back. He gave her a quick smile as he heard her daughter say “Shit!” after the sound of the cue ball hitting the side of the pool table for a scratch. “Your shot dad.” 

He remembered his daughter being a better player than this as he looked over the table. She’d missed an easy corner shot that set him up to knock one of his own in the side pocket.  Looking at her while he set up his shot, she seemed annoyed.

“What’s wrong hon?” He asked while easily making the shot.

“I don’t know, I’m still upset George didn’t come out.”

“You’re here, that’s what counts.” he said while eying up his next shot.

“But it’s our family. I guess I just expected him to be here, you know, because this was the night.”

“Well, he probably doesn’t remember her too much.” He said as he sank another ball. “Do you remember her?”

“Yeah a little. I remember going to see her in the hospital, and I remember when she stayed with us for a while. She would let me watch cartoons when you wanted me to do my homework.”

“Yeah,” Henry laughed while looking over his next shot, “she was a free spirit. Our parents were really tough on both of us, and she just had it in her so much to rebel.“ He went on to reveal, “Sometimes mom and I knew she was letting you watch movies or sneaking you treats. We let her go, figured she should have some fun with you while she could.”

“Were things really that bad for her?”

Sinking another solid Henry said “She was in and out of trouble as long as I could remember.” He looked over at the bar sign indicating the date bartenders referred to when checking ages. “Once she was gone, I mean it was devastating, but nobody was really surprised.” He then looked at the table to set up his final shot. “None of this is on George though, he’s got to go his own way.”

“When’s the last time you even talked to him?” Helen asked.

Eyeing up his final shot, about to win another game he said “I don’t know, it’s been a while.”

Part Four: Hallowed Visions

October 26th, 1990. Hallow-con, New York City

Victoria held Dan’s hand as they walked down the aisle looking at all the vendors. She spotted a group of guys sitting around a table with a few hardcover books, sheets of paper, and twenty sided die, “Oh look?” her black lipstick shined as she smiled. “Should we see if we can join this session?” 

“Sure, let’s check it out.” Dan said as they approached the area set up for a table-top role playing game. Every guy at the table shifted his focus as the couple approached. One of the guys nodded in approval of Dan’s shirt from the first Halloween movie. The rest of them grinned at the sight of Victoria in her tight leather top. “You guys playing?” she asked.

“You bet.” one of the gamers said as he stroked his massive beard. “We’re setting up for a Ravenloft session, wanna play?”

“Yeah that would be great.” Victoria said, excited as she and Dan sat at the table.

A pencil thin guy seated with the group looked sharply at Victoria and asked. “Do you know what Ravenloft is?”

Victoria’s pale face lit up as she said “No I don’t, can you tell me!?!”

“Well it’s like Dungeons and Dragons with some horror elements in it.” the man said. His voice was deadpan serious as he asked. “Do you know what Dungeons and Dragons is?”

Putting her finger in her mouth like a valley girl from the recently passed decade, Victoria said “Uh, yeah, like I think I heard of it.”

The man then condescendingly raised a sheet of paper in his hand to explain “Ok, well this is a character sheet that you use to play in the Ravenloft setting.”  While his eyes locked on her cleavage he continued to explain, “You have different skills and abilities, and..”

“And you encounter the Dark Lords like Strahd Von Zarovich, ruler of Barovia who wishes to win back is love Tatyana,”  the jaws of the nerds dropped, some out of surprise, some out of infatuation while she finished “or Vlad Drakov who’s military ambitions ar forever doomed to failure. It’s a pretty dark place, but at least Vecna and Lord Soth managed to escape.” Finally, two of her black nailed fingers pointed back to her face as she knelt toward him and yelled “And by the way, my eyes are up here asshole!” before storming away. 

“Nice job dipshit!” She heard behind her as Dan caught up. 

“Sorry about that,” Dan sounded so embarrassed. “You ok?”

“Nothing to be sorry about.” Victoria then looked at the large back blocking the aisle ahead and said “That guy’s gonna be sorry if he doesn’t stop blocking the way.”   

As the large man looked around, Dan squeezed Victoria’s hand and said “Hey I know that guy.”

Taking a few steps closer she heard him yell out “George! George!” The man turned around and waved as Dan asked, “George it’s really you?”

“Yeah it’s me.” the man answered. 

“Long time no see brother how are you?” Victoria watched Dan excitedly hug the man while other convention goers walked around them..

“I’m good, I’m good.” Dan’s friend said before eying Victoria up.

“This is my fiance Victoria.” Dan introduced. “She got to school after you were gone. She’ll be finishing up next year actually.”

“Nice to meet you.” he said smiling. Victoria then noticed the General Hospital picture he was putting into his black bag. “Oh, you got John York’s autograph!” she said excitedly.

“Yeah,” Victoria was a little confused as he now looked like he could barely hide his irritation. She then understood as he explained. “It’s for my sister.”

“That’s so sweet of you to do that. I’m sure you’re a fan of General Hospital too right?”

She realized by his facial expression he had no idea she was kidding. Thankfully Dan intervened with, “Last season of Werewolf!”

“I know, that totally blows.” Geroge instantly reacted. “I was talking to ‘Eric’ though, and he told me they’re wrapping the story line up. So at least there’s that. I hate when things end on a cliffhanger!”

“Awesome man!” Dan said. ” Well we’re gonna check out some posters at this venue here.”Dan pointed to a booth down the aisle.

“Cool, I want to get the new Friday the 13th poster.” Victoria now realized George would be joining them.

Making their way through the swarm of people, the trio came to a booth that had bins of posters, including several large posters on displays facing out towards the crowd. One of the posters facing out featured a ferocious looking werewolf chasing a young girl through a back alley. 

“Remember when we saw that back in school?” Dan remeniced.

“I do remember that.”  George answered.

Dan pumped his fist remembering. “Man, I was so excited that they finally put a Halloween movie back in the theaters.” 

“Are you a Halloween fan?” Victoria asked George.

“I liked the series,” he said, “but I’m more of a Friday the 13th fan myself. Halloween is cool, but you know, after the second one each entry was its own story.” 

“That was Carpenter’s vision man,” Dan chimed in. “Make it an anthology!” 

“I think that’s a cool idea.” George explained. “I mean, I thought they were good movies. Like that one up there,” George pointed to the ghostly image on the poster for Halloween Four. “That was scary, but I like following a series like Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street that tells one continous story.”

Victoria pointed up at the display to the poster for Halloween Five, on which a quartet of red robed figures hold sacrificial knives over the near naked body of a voluptuous young woman. “Do you have that one hon?” 

“Yeah I got that one back at my mom’s place.” Dan said. “The only one I never got was number three.”

“I never saw that one anywhere.” George said. 

“That’s the first one they released direct to video,” Dan relayed to George, “and they didn’t make a lot of promotional material for it. Really sucks.”

“It’s in here somewhere.” The vendor poked his head out from behind the display while finishing a transaction with another customer. “If you dig around here long enough you’ll find it.”

“Cool,” Victoria looked back at him and asked “Do you have the poster for Night Skies?”

“It’s in there somewhere hon.” The vendor winked at her as he answered.

While Victoria started digging through the bins George pointed back to the poster for Halloween Six: Curse of the Werewolf, to say, “I heard there’s a producer’s cut of that movie.”

“There is,” Dan said with a devilish smile on his face before revealing “I saw it.”

“That’s so cool!” George said as he began looking through posters himself. “I wouldn’t mind seeing it.”

“Yeah it’s pretty awesome.” Dan recalled, himself now looking through a bin of posters. “Somebody on campus got a hold of it last year. They explain more of the lore and stuff, but maybe the coolest part is that there’s an extra scene with Donald Pleasance!”

“He played the priest in that one right?’ George asked.

“That’s right, Father John.” Dan answered. “There’s a scene where he mentions he has a cousin in..,” Victoria smiled as she knew Dan loved talking about this, “guess where…” George shrugged his shoulders. “Haddonfield!”

“What!” The wheels were turning in George’s head. “Wait, so it’s linked to the first one?”

“Well who knows,” Victoria looked up at them as she speculated. “It could be just a gag for the fans, just like how in each entry someone is always watching the previous movie.”

“Right?” George recalled. “In part three a commercial for the first one comes on in a bar, right?”

“Correct” Dan said, “and in part four they go see part three in the theater.”

“I can’t remember what happened in the last two!” George said in frustration.

“Part five they rent part four from the local video store,” Dan said, “and part six they are on the set of part five.”

Both Dan and George turned to Victoria as she squealed in excitement. At long last she’d found the poster for the Stephen Spielberg horror film Night Skies. It featured a creepy image of Extra Terrestrial aliens terrorizing a family on their farm, above the image of a little girl read the words “They’re here.” the move’s famous catch phrase. “This scared the shit out of me when I was a kid!” she recalled, as she pulled the poster out of the bin and went to pay for it.

Dan struck gold next. “Here you go George!” George rushed over to Dan who pulled out the last poster in the bin he was searching. It was a poster for last year’s Friday the 13th Part Eight. Dan admired the image of New York City in the background before he handed it off to George. Dan then walked over to the bin George had just been searching.

While George and Victoria paid for their finds, Dan finally struck paydirt. “Bingo!” His face lit up like a Christmas tree as he saw the silver letters that spelled out Halloween III at the top of the poster, on which red skies hung below a silhouette of a trio of trick or treating children. 

“Oh shit!” George excitedly quoted from the film’s poster. “The night no one comes home!” The trio high fived each other as Dan purchased the poster for Halloween Three: Season of the Witch. Victoria looked up at the displays of the other Halloween posters her fiance already owned. There was Halloween Four: Return of the Wraith, next to that was Halloween Five, Revenge of Samhain, then Halloween Six: Curse of the Werewolf. Victoria remembered how that was the first Halloween since number two to be put back in the theaters. It was a great movie, and it made werewolves cool for a couple years. She could see down the aisle where John Yolk was happily signing autographs, and mused that perhaps that cycle has come to a close. 

Victoria had only just met George, but she could tell already he wasn’t often quiet. He too was looking at the Halloween Six poster, and she assumed he must be reminiscing too, but she then realized George fixed his gaze on the woman, the woman and her bare legs, her bare legs and her skinned knee.

George finally stopped zoning when she asked him, “So how long have you been a horror fan?”